Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at www.dailyalert.org|
July 16, 2009
German Intelligence: "Iran Can Set Off a Bomb within Six Months" (Stern-Germany)
IDF Commander: Soldier Who Made Accusations "Was Not in the Field at the Time" - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
What Gazans Really Think about Obama - Norman H. Olsen (Christian Science Monitor)
Palestinian Rights Group Slams Hamas for Storming Gaza Wedding (AFP)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington on Wednesday: "We know that progress toward peace cannot be the responsibility of the United States - or Israel - alone. Ending the conflict requires action on all sides. The Palestinians have the responsibility to improve and extend the positive actions already taken on security; to act forcefully against incitement; and to refrain from any action that would make meaningful negotiations less likely. And Arab states have a responsibility to support the Palestinian Authority with words and deeds, to take steps to improve relations with Israel, and to prepare their publics to embrace peace and accept Israel's place in the region."
"The Saudi peace proposal, supported by more than twenty nations, was a positive step. But we believe that more is needed. So we are asking those who embrace the proposal to take meaningful steps now....Sending messages of peace is not enough. You must also act against the cultures of hate, intolerance and disrespect that perpetuate conflict." (State Department)
See also Clinton: U.S. Offer to Iran "Not Indefinite"
Secretary of State Clinton has warned Iran the U.S. will not extend its offer of engagement indefinitely. Mrs. Clinton said Iran must respond to President Obama's overtures now. If not, Iran could face more isolation over its nuclear program. (BBC News)
Hamas officials Bassem Naim and Mahmoud al-Zahar met in Switzerland in June with Thomas R. Pickering, a former undersecretary of state and U.S. ambassador to the UN. However, U.S. officials said Pickering had not been asked to approach Hamas and had no official standing. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday in Washington that before Hamas can participate in peace talks, "we have made it clear, both publicly and privately, through all kinds of pronouncements, that we would expect Hamas to recognize Israel and renounce violence and agree to abide by prior agreements." (Washington Post)
In its first live trial, an Israeli-made missile defense system brought down a short-range rocket similar to those used by Palestinian and Lebanese militants. Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman Shlomo Dror said Wednesday that a missile from the "Iron Dome" system intercepted and destroyed a Grad rocket. The system is scheduled to be fully operational by the end of next year. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
A senior Western diplomat said the U.S. is currently developing a diplomatic plan for renewal of the Middle East peace process but is only interested in pursuing it after the settlement issue and the matter of pro-Israel gestures from Arab states are resolved. The plan will not provide parameters for the resolution of core issues. Rather it will provide a framework and a timetable for negotiations. The diplomat noted that the Americans have understood that Israel cannot agree to an absolute freeze in construction in the settlements. The shift in the American position is also the product of the refusal on the part of the moderate Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, to make significant normalization gestures toward Israel. (Ha'aretz)
A day after an explosion uncovered a hidden Hizbullah arms cache in southern Lebanon, the IDF's Northern Command estimated that the group had turned hundreds of homes in the area into warehouses to store short- and medium-range Katyusha rockets. The IDF released video footage showing a home that had exploded on Tuesday in the Lebanese village of Hirbet Selm. The roof is seen with dozens of holes, which IDF ballistic experts said were the size of 122-mm. Katyusha rockets.
IDF sources said they had been aware prior to the explosion that the home was being used as a storehouse for weapons. "This house was connected to an entire underground network that was built right under the noses of UNIFIL and the Lebanese army," one IDF officer said. UNIFIL called the missiles a "serious violation" of the UN-brokered ceasefire. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Video: Hizbullah Resumes Terror Activities in Southern Lebanon
Hizbullah militants enter and exit an underground facility used for terror activity in southern Lebanon. (IDF/YouTube)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Given the persistence of American efforts to engage the Iranian regime in dialogue over the last 30 years, and the resilience of the Obama administration's own commitment to engagement, the one constant in American policy toward Iran seems to be that we do indeed want talks. When it comes to Iran, the question isn't so much whether to engage, but how to get Iran's leaders to want to engage earnestly with us.
The Iranian regime has demonstrated that it is in no mood for compromise, and not particularly eager to win the world's regard. While engagement need not be abandoned, it should be pursued in parallel with pressure. The regime must come to see the president's outreach not merely as an invitation, but as an off-ramp from a road that leads to escalating penalties. The writer, former senior director for Middle East affairs on the U.S. National Security Council, is a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (New York Times)
While longer-term hope still exists for a free Iran, Europe and the U.S. must prepare for a more dangerous Iranian regime over the short- or even medium term. Their legitimacy wounded and their paranoia increased, Iran's leaders now may be more repressive at home and intransigent abroad. What can be done to stop the regime's march to a nuclear bomb?
For negotiations to succeed, supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei and his coterie must be made to pay a higher cost for their nuclear weapons pursuit. Europe and her allies must be willing to peacefully exploit Iran's economic Achilles heel: the regime's heavy dependence on gasoline imports. Due to limited refining capabilities, Iran imports approximately 40% of its domestic gasoline consumption - the second-largest importer of gasoline in the world. That gasoline is supplied primarily by five companies: Swiss-Dutch Vitol and Trafigura, India's Reliance Industries, Swiss Glencore and French Total. During the presidential election, Mr. Obama endorsed the idea of squeezing Iran's gasoline supplies to dissuade Tehran from proceeding with its nuclear program. The writer is executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Wall Street Journal Europe)
Life in the West Bank - in sharp contrast to Hamas-ruled Gaza - has taken on a semblance of normalcy with massive foreign aid and training for security forces loyal to U.S.-backed Mahmoud Abbas. Middle-class matrons shop for imported furniture in a marble-and-glass emporium in Ramallah. A festival at the city's Palace of Culture featuring dance and music groups from Turkey, Germany and France is drawing sellout crowds. The Danish hip hop group Outlandish recently performed for 2,000 fans, including teenage girls in jeans and tank tops, with black-clad Palestinian riot police watching from the sidelines.
After the second Palestinian uprising against Israel broke out in 2000, vigilante gunmen ruled and security forces were largely powerless. Now police are visible in the streets, the vigilantes have handed over their weapons, and Hamas militants have gone underground. In Nablus, cinemas were shut down by uprising activists in the late 1980s. Now the $2 million Cinema City is showing four films a day, mainly Egyptian dramas and comedies but also Hollywood fare. (AP/Washington Post)
See also IMF: West Bank Economy on the Mend - Yana Dlugy (AFP)
Why No Progress in the Peace Process for the Past Eight Years? - Rick Richman (Commentary)
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